Journey of the Strange

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Campaign Setup[edit]

The Characters[edit]

The World of Espial[edit]

The World of Espial

Depending on who you ask, Espial has been in existence for anywhere from 1,000 to a million years. These estimates are largely based on religious and folk history texts, however, and most scientists agree they are hardly accurate. Whatever the truth behind its origins, the following facts are generally accepted in the Old World:

The pre-eminent race is humanity. It makes up the vast majority of most major civilizations, and it has spread far and wide. It is perhaps not the oldest race, a claim made by some drakes, but it is omnipresent. The heart of human society is largely found in and around the continent of Peregrine, a region that is known to colonists as the Old World.

The Heral Imperiate is perhaps the largest nation in the Old World, with its power concentrated in the western reaches of Peregrine. Their empire grew from a band of raiding horsemen (the Heral) who swept away all resistance in centuries past and took over a number of less warlike nations. They eventually settled and their major cities became centers of culture and learning, spreading notions of art, literature, and enlightenment to the rest of the world. They also continued to spread their military and trade influence to the outer edges of Peregrine. The Imperiate's latest acquisition were the islands that became the home to the Trader League. Weakened by dwindling resources and wars against the Mari Imperium and Pherencia, however, they lost control of the islands to a revolutionary band of merchants and landowners.

The Mari Imperium has been in place for almost 200 years. It was once in control of most of the Middle Sea (as the Mari Republic, then the Marian Successor Alliance), but now exists on the Southern coast...though its Empire expanded south so much that it now controls more land and subjects than it ever did in the Middle Sea. The Mari, pragmatic as ever, condsider it part of the the great cycle of Mari. Mari the woman was a queen in the ancient days who led her tribe to victory, conquest, unification and, eventually, the alliance of the people who bear her name. She founded the Marout, or Way, a spritual philosophy that has a hundred sects in the modern day but is also the official religion of the Imperium. It acknowldeges gods as local manifestations of the Divine All given much greater power and understanding than mortals and questions not why the god of the sun is a woman in another place. In religion as in politics, the Mari are pragmatic. The Imperium is vast and depends on regional governers and colonial allies to keep itself intact. While it has access to huge resources, much of these are, at any one time, being used to supress revolts, arbitrate with warring factions, deal with disaster and banditry or fight wars of expansion or defence. idea yet

The Trader League is one of the newest and wealthiest countries of the Old World, largely a result of its strength in trade and naval exploration. Composed of a chain of islands known colloquially as The Hook, with each island being home to a city state. The city states include Adencia, Ebuoru, and Varum. While individual leadership of these city states varies in form and identity, the League is ruled by a Council with representatives from each city state. These representatives tend to be the wealthiest and most powerful merchants and landowners of their respective homes. The League is uniquely poised to have influence on the New World continent of Sojourn.

The Old World[edit]

Species and the Old World[edit]

The 'Old World' is human, entirely. Races other then humans are seen on occasion, but are incredibly rare. Occasionally another sentient creature will wander through, but they're usually part of a traveling carnival or freak show. Their creditials as part of a legitimate race are suspect- at best. Humans are in contact with a few other races, but they're all from places very far away that the Old World isn't colonizing. Trading partners and political rivals who's presence in day-to-day life of most humans is paltry at best. And each inhabits a continent largely it's own, with their own nations and cultures. Warring against people close to home is simply easier, so contact between races was, until very recently, a minute chance.

With the increasing ability of sea travel, and the increasing knowledge of resources away from the Old World, however, contact between races is growing rapidly. The 'New World' continent of Sojourn holds the promise of great riches for whichever nation can get their foot in first.

The Traders League[edit]

Adencia and the Trader Cities.[edit]

The Trader cities and their League occupy a broad belt of coastal land, Islands and Archipelagoes in and along the Middle Sea. While they are a diverse and independent collection of many different, often older cultures, they are united in their desire to see no great empire or monarchy rise to destroy their freedom (as has happened at some time to most of the cities in the past). The cities attempt to do this by dominating trade across the Middle Sea.

While there are other Empires, Kingdoms and Tribal lands around them [indeed, these are their major trade partners], the Trader Cities demand only that their colonies, trade missions and holdings remain free of local rule. Responses to this vary. In the heart of the Trader cities, financially, geographically and politically, lie the great City States, the old cities and lands that the mercantile/military naval expeditions set out from. Here are collected the profits and trade goods of half the known world, as the Middle Sea straddles the great Trade routes North and South, East and West. The naval power of most city states can rival nearby nations, but much of it is for transport.

The old families and clans of the city states are generally very, very rich, and live lifes that most people cannot imagine. Consequently, over time, they have developed a sense of entitlement and privelige that sets them apart. The class system of the city states is based on wealth, but who becomes wealthy and for how long can be a matter of lineage, or marraige thereinto.

Many of the Greater city states, such as Adencia, have begun their own colonies or exploratory missions to the new worlds. Adencia's only claim to fame is establishing the first mainland colony.

Ancient Ebuoru[edit]

Tashal Robespare grew up in the ancient city of Ebuoru, the oldest and most powerful entity in the Trade League. With bountiful seas cradling it gently on all sides, it built an economy on fishing and trade. Far enough from the main land to be hard to keep tabs on, but close enough to travel to easily, it also become a center for conspiracy, piracy, and illegal acts of all kinds without the watchful eye of the Imperitor's servants getting in the way. The city has a legacy for ill deeds and eldritch plots both ancient and well deserved.

Not only a center of crime, Ebuoru is also a center of learning. The merchant lords who truly ran the city- they learned to assinate any effective administrator quickly- fund lavish universities, and collect some of the largest libraries in the Old World. The city's labs and engineers export as much technology as the rest export anything else. Ebuoru makes some of the finest ships, guns and metals in the known world. Of course, without much access to natural resources, they're far from capable of dominating even small areas beyond the island's natural boundries.

The city itself occupies a mid sized island about 70 miles off the coast of the Heral Imperiate. The island is about 4 miles wide by 3 and 1/2 long. The city of Ebuoru- a name which it shares with the island itself- dominates 95% of the land. What little open space there is remains in the hands of various churches, temples, and criminal organizations who use it for whatever they see fit.

Militarily, Ebuoru is little better armed then your average school yard. They maintain no formal military, relying instead on powerful merchants to finance armies of mercenaries that seem to manifest in the city whenever trouble is about. This, combined with favorable geography and a few well placed cannons, means that taking the city proved far harder during the war then the Heral Imperitor's military advisors guessed.

The Trade League and the Heral Imperiate - A history.[edit]

The Human Trade League is without question the most powerful presence along the southern coast, having used the resources there to finally break away from the tyranical rule of the Heral Imperiate only a few years ago. But it was long known that 'rule' was a farce. The Heral Emperors had been steadily losing power to merchant princes and trade barons for decades, and only managed to keep their rule through simply being a bit too pathetic to bother with. It wasn't until the Trade League wished to expand their efforts that they were forced to throw off the yoke of the Imperiate and declare themselves independent.


Pherencia is a fairly old kingdom. If you count the multiple dynasties that have ruled roughly the same portion of land and have a few familial ties to each other, Pherencia has existed under one name or another for several hundred years. Some would tell you that this is because Pherencia is made up of honest, hard working people and wise kings. Others would tell you that this is because Pherencia is so boring no one feels like trying to take it away.

Located in the central region of Peregrine, Pherencia stretches over an area of vast plains, rolling hills and gentle coutryside. Plentiful stone and occasional forests mean that small towers and castles are fairly common sights, all with small villages nestled around their walls for protection. Amazingly, for an area of land as vast as Pherencia- only the Heral and Mari Empires are larger then it for sheer landmass- it has almost no land anyone would describe as 'dramatic'. It lacks mountains, canyons of any type, even rivers too large to ford are unheard of. The only forest of any significant size lays around the capital city of Kirksat.

All in all, the country is more or less completely undefensable against an invading force. And considering the land is known for well maintained farmland and productive summers and falls, it's a little bit amazing the kings of Pherencia aren't fighting off constant invaders. The reasons for this relative peace are many, however. First, Pherencia's reputation for wise kings isn't just a reputation. The nation has invested heavily in a series of castles, towers, walls and other defensive structures. Invading armies find themselves constantly mired in sieges of well supplied defensive hard points, all simply buying time until the notoriously harsh winters roll in. Few armies maintain morale long enough to maintain a siege once the first foot of snow hits the ground.

Pherencian generals have a reputation for winning a war by losing every battle. They simply loose well, shedding few men, and retreat to the next strong hold. Winter comes, and every one goes home. Next summer, they rebuild the fortress and the invader is taught an important lesson about strategy.

Second, most nobles think of Pherencia as a dull place. This is because of it's almost total lack of palaces, opera houses or vast state sponsored art works. There's only one statue in the entirety of Kirksat. The only thing the nobility seems to construct are fortresses. Why this frugal building policy? Well, that's simple. Pherencia has the most well feed peasants in the world. Low taxes means more peasants keep more of their crops. The division of wealth is minute compared to the Heral Imperiate or even the Trader League.

This means that the peasants are not only willing to fight for their local lord, but they're actually capable of it. Between being well fed and constant labor in fields, Pherencia is able to boost one of the best supplied, and most capable militia forces in the world. Not that a Perencian would boost. It's not in their nature. Just ask. They'll tell you. At length.

Finally, Pherencia keeps itself peaceful by not making enemies. It is a vast haven of stability in a chaotic political landscape. The King embraces the Marian Way as the offical religion, but there's hardly mention of the faith on the law books. It keeps it's doors and diplomats open as negoiators and arbitraiters in political disputes. Smaller, less stable kingdoms boarder it on all sides. Attempts to invade are quickly put down by trouble at home. Pherencians step in, accept a quick apology, and offer a few men to help put down the resistance.

The only place of note in Pherencia is the Library of Kirksat. It is, as befits the kingdom it lays in, a largely boring place. This library collects and archives the many histories and laws happening through the Old World. Technically a portion of the Lizpeg College of the Arcane, it's usually only sought out by people with need for some unreasonably obscure piece of lore. The Pherencian rulers, with their quiet cunning, have found it an immensely useful resource.

Pherencians have something of a bad reputation when traveling alone. Traditional wisdom holds that a Pherencian traveling alone is some one who couldn't take the idyllic boredom of home any more. And that means trouble. Bad luck follows them close, or maybe it's just they're too curious. And that's before getting into Pherencian 'entertainment'. Two things are considered fun, to the average mind of the Old World. The first is particularly long winded, overly detailed stories. The kind of story that starts with one funny event a few generations back and ends with the telling of the story. Second is a particularly wicked brand of practical joke. No one really knows why, but Pherencians seem to have an overly developed sense of schadenfraude.

The government in Pherencia is a simple monarchy, with feudal aspects remaining. The King holds absolute authority, but each noble under him owns a portion of land and may raise an army to defend that land. Technically, armies only consist of other nobles banded together to fight. Since most of Pherencia's fighting force is of common stock, this means even relatively low ranking nobles can put together a respectible fighting force without stepping on anyone's toes. Thanks in large part to this relatively loose system of rank, there hasn't been a civil war in Pherencia for generations.

Pherencia: Keep Your Head Down.

The Mari Imperium[edit]

The Mari Imperium. In one form or another, the Mari Imperium has been in place for almost 200 years. It was once in control of most of the Middle Sea (as the Mari Republic, then the Marian Successor Alliance), but now exists on the Southern coast...though its Empire expanded south so much that it now controls more land and subjects than it ever did in the Middle Sea. The Mari, pragmatic as ever, condsider it part of the the great cycle of Mari. Mari the woman was a queen in the ancient days who led her tribe to victory, conquest, unification and, eventually, the alliance of the people who bear her name. She founded the Marout, or Way, a spritual philosophy that has a hundred sects in the modern day but is also the official religion of the Imperium. It acknowldeges gods as local manifestations of the Divine All given much greater power and understanding than mortals and questions not why the god of the sun is a woman in another place. In religion as in politics, the Mari are pragmatic. The Imperium is vast and depends on regional governers and colonial allies to keep itself intact. While it has access to huge resources, much of these are, at any one time, being used to supress revolts, arbitrate with warring factions, deal with disaster and banditry or fight wars of expansion or defence.

[What if India was attached to East Africa? The Mari Imperium is a mixture of Byzantine Empire,Egypt, India and 'Nubia', - vast, enigmatic and very dangerous if truly roused. I imagine a semiformal caste system with meritocracy at the lower levels, but rigid control at the top. ]

The Kirklands and the North.[edit]

Beyond the Middle Sea to the North lies the various mountain chains that form the worlds spine. Where this meets the Great Ocean are the Kirklands...a series of valley and highland based holdings that stretch along the coasts until they meet the vast graasy plains and bogs that define the North. Although there are currently over a dozen monarchies or free alliances amongst the Kirklands (and there have been far more in times past), some of whom have been there for hundreds of years (such as Gotz and Utter Gotz in the North, Or the Kingdom of Three Rivers on the south coast), the area has acquired it's common Name because of the similarity of its settlement styles, one that has been followed through the ages.

The northern plains have always been home to nomadic people, and the Chariot riding, cattle herding ancestors of the kirklanders came from there originally, driven out by an ancient foe. When they fled to the coastal and mountain valleys that became the kirklands, they would settle, one clan to a valley and build their Kirk or winterplace. Over time these settlements became permanent and the Kirklanders adapted to farming and permanent houses...although they still herd more than is strictly needed.

Over the centuries, other peoples have come and gone in the Kirklands, but this pattern of a Kirk (or central town) dominating one valley has remained, and created a basic community unit. A kingdom or allinace in the kirklands is measured by the number and quality of its Kirks.

[What if the Celtic ancestors settled earlier, and the Romans, etc didn't get to kick the crap out of them? Plus, the pattern mimics what high level adventurers would do if they were settling an area...]

The Northern plains these days are divided into a dozen petty "young Kingdoms", all vying with each other in endless cattle wars.

The New World[edit]

An Explorers Map[edit]


A brief colonizing history.[edit]

As discovered so far on the mainland, there has been only one native race...the Drakes.They are the dominant race in the coastal areas, and anyone else (humans, most probably) are confined to the highlands and less rich areas.

The Islands, on the other hand, have native offshoot of the mainland highlanders. For whatever reason, they make lousy slaves, or at least lousy worker slaves, so Elves are imported to do any actual labour on the exotic produce plantations.

The Islands were reached 30 years ago, but colonizing has spread slowly, lacking any great finds.

The South Eastern Archipelago[edit]

The native peoples[edit]

Of the islanders who died, the vast majority were men. Within a few years of colonization, most of the remaining women were pregnant by foreign soldiers and adventurers and the fruits of this miscegenation has now grown into a generation of vigorous young adults. These barefoot mamelucos are far more suited to the habitat and the circumstances than their parents and are much sought after as jungle guides. Unlike their native parents, they hold little fear for the interior and its perils, having adopted their fathers' view that the world can be dominated if a man's arm is strong enough.


Agriculture is, so far, very fragile. The main staple is cassava (manioc if you will), an indigenous crop grown in the forest understory by the natives. This is commonly consumed with the pulped or puréed fruit of a palm, açaí, but neither of these is to the colonists' liking. Fish are of course, hugely important, and whale meat too. Efforts to plant temperate crops have met with failure, only minor plantations of rice having been established, the suitable land for this limited on the islands. Some hardy breeds of cattle have been brought to the islands and, along with goats, pigs and chickens, have been reared successfully, but the numbers are limited.


Across the south eastern coast of Sojourn, the Elves dominate the seas. This isn't a true nation as much as a band of roving religious fanatics. The movement claims that Sojourn is going to be the site of return for an ancient Elven prophet, and it is their's by birthright. Fortunately for them, they're moving to the New World far faster then the more militant factions of the Grand Order of Magisters on their home continent of Thobos can hunt them down. So far, the Elves and the Humans are getting along in the New World. This is more a matter of need then a matter of true alliance, though. The Elves have no means of crossing the oceans on their own. The Trade League has ships that need something to carry, and fields that need to be worked. Elves can do both these things, and will often pay for the privilage. Typically, an elven patriarch will go to the New World, work his debt off, and then work to pay for passage for his family. Then the entire group moves east to the glorified cults the Elves are calling cities. Currently, male Elves out number female Elves in the new world almost 12 to 1.

Elven revolts[edit]

On a number of occasions, however, the elves have revolted and have taken themselves off into the interior. There, it is said that they have established the seeds of states, along the lines of an ancient notion of republics. These settlements are known as Quilombos and the members are known as Quilombolos or Quilombolas. One was founded rather too close to the coast to remain hidden, and was swiftly destroyed in a military expedition lasting barely three weeks.

Current situation[edit]

The reason the natives of the island make lousy slaves? They're mostly dead. Primarily through inexplicable diseases, but also due to the occasional- small scale- genocide (mostly at the hands of Elves reclaiming their lost birthright). The native population of the islands is now less then 10% of what it formly was. Most colonists don't even know that there was once a thriving culture there. They simply see ruins, and assume them to be ancient, lost Elven relics.

The Southern Mainland[edit]

Amazing, for all the prophet and fuss made by the Old Worlds over the New one, no one's explored very much of it. All the major settlements are on the sea. Only three or four even have a population over 300 souls, and only the Human settlements are fully self sustaining. Travel further inland then a dozen miles, and you're in poorly charted territories. Another dozen miles, and you may well be the first Human to ever see what ever tree you're looking at. The forests of the New World are dense, and as far as anyone can tell, the native population seems entirely composed by clans of intelligent, flying lizards.

Governance from afar[edit]

It is the Baroness Luthe who governs the colony. After an incident in which it is rumoured that she attempted to kill her husband with a hairpin, a complex agreement was reached within which she was to govern the new lands to the east in the name of [the city state], while her husband would govern the family's extensive estates back in the Old World. She set sail with her brood of five children eleven years ago but has never quite finished the the last leg of the voyage, remaining one month's sailing to the west, on an island in the middle of the ocean, called Redfort.

Her rule has been characterized by long periods of silence punctuated by sweeping decrees and concessions which have little relation to reality. Some five or six adventurers and soldiers form the core of her favoured group, each of these dignitaries spending some four to six months of the year courting favour with the Baroness at Redfort then returning with impressive documents according them new privileges. These men generally seem to avoiding meeting eachother head-on, apparently operating on the basis of agreement between gentlemen. Conflicts have occasionally arisen, usually due to contradictory documents, each bearing the seal of the Baroness, and more than a score of times, duels of sorts have been fought, boats scuppered or rice fields flooded.

Through all of this, the Baroness is said to maintain enviable serenity.

Fort Colenth[edit]

The furtherest point out in the New World is Fort Colenth. This simple wood and pitch barracade is a full twenty miles from the coast, well out of site out of the city that supports it. Fifty men man it's walls. They've constructed a watch tower, a barracks, and simple fortifications to guard against... Well, the natives in the area are relatively friendly, so they're not quite sure what they're guarding against. But those same natives say, when they come in to trade furs and meat for trinkets and smoke, that just on the other side of them, something bad lives. Commander Alluicious La Blanke, ranking officer at Fort Colenth, is of the opinion that the local Drakes are simply pulling their legs. The men at the base aren't so sure.

The Drakes and colonisation[edit]

Much of the lowlands occupied by the drakes is inhospitable swamp and mangroves, but there are ranges of low hills a short way inland. In the incipient colonies, these hills are considered prime targets for agriculture. A few dissenting voices have pointed out that, despite the lush vegetation, the red soil is very infertile and have proposed ambitious schemes for partial draining of some of the coastal areas to plant rice. That infertile soil could support lush vegetation is, of course, considered foolishness by most. Overall, no particular direction has yet been taken, though most know that the colony cannot sustain itself forever as it currently is.

The drakes themselves have no discernible organisation or society yet a few have shown themselves to be quite intelligent and cultured when they have come in peace to deal with the colonists. A dozen years ago, an effort was made to use the drakes' services to chart some of the coastline from the air. Despite the cartographers' best efforts, however, all they could produce were strange geometrical designs linking the various known geographical features, utterly useless for navigation. Due to the exorbitant fees charged by the drakes (consisting of diamonds, rubies and live captives), the maps were never thrown away, but are rather held under lock and key.

the emerald rush and new colonials[edit]

To date, the principal riches to have come from the New World consists of emeralds. In a single region where the hills reach the coast, a small colony was set up to harvest these gems from the earth.

The quantity of emeralds has not been great. Indeed, if a careful accounting were undertaken, it would be found that the colonies have so far represented a huge investment with little or no reward. However, when these stones arrived in the Old World, they ensured that the stories of rivers of gold and silver across the ocean would not die on the vine.

Few of the colonists paid for the rights to land before embarking on their voyage. The numbers of such folk are on the rise, however, and they are markedly different from the others in that they are arriving with families in tow and have no thought of returning. Along the way, these people have their charters ratified by the Baroness and her staff and they arrive at the docks full of hope.

Naturally, the claims they have, while vast, frequently overlap with others and usually cover areas of swamp, areas held by drakes and so on. A number of claims appear to be to areas of sea. Nevertheless, all of these claims bear several seals and signatures, so their bearers still feel themselves to be wealthy and are still able to use these documents as a certain form of currency.

None of these colonists has yet struck out into the interior to lay claim to their lands, but they are building in numbers and are getting organised. Several groups have declared themselves to be new states, independent of any other, but these have so far been largely ignored as they have yet to act. Many of them arrived with young children and have seen their children grow into young almost-adults. This is leading to the obvious problems, especially with the young mamelucos who abound.

Steam is building up and the climate is one of incipient explosion.

The Northern Land and the North East[edit]

The North East, beyond the Bay of Suns (and who knows where that leads to?) is a contrast to the few settlers , explorers and merchants that have dared its shorelines. Great, warm southerly currents wash the coast, meeting the northern Ocean in a sea of seasonally changing fogs. The coast beyond these fogs is unexplored, for good reason. The few local legends claim the northern seas and fog shrouded coasts are home to many monsters and abominations - and this would seem to be true. The Pherencian fleet of a decade ago, which set out to find the Lost city of the Mists, lost a three master to a giant squid or kraken and another ship to a Water Dragon - both creatures assumed to be extinct or Mythical. Similarly, the ashore parties that departed up the river Woebegone were never seen again, despite the presence of Divine 'shepherds' and arcane 'magicians'.

Further South, where the coast pulls away from the low, jumbled mountain chains that line it in the North, the land is abundant with trees and wildlife, mostly of types unusual to the explorers. The land is heavily wooded, broken only by rivers, mountains and the grasslands that border the southern coastal deserts.

Familiar species run to similar but, in general, larger forms than seen in the old worlds. Two obvious trends noticed in the more unusual animals are the presence of warm blooded, reptilian types as key territiorial predators, and the larger number of nocturnal species.

Two fishing and whaling camps have been made on the Islands off the southern coast, and one is even showing signs of becoming a settlement. At least part of this success has been attributed to the seemingly endless supply of new plants and animals - and things more monstrous - that these camps have captured in the off seasons. Phrenecia has established a number of lucrative trades to the Mari Imperium in the south for it's Arena festivals, and several species of plant are adapting well to the Old World.

What actually lies beyond the coastal islands and a few explorers camps, no one is sure. That there are intelligent folk about, there is no doubt - there are signs, paths, fires...but they are never seen and have made no attempt to contact any so far. What is known is that they have no coastal villages and leave small tracks, smaller than a man...

The philosopher/sage Arrentuis, commisioned to lead the Phrenacian mission, has opined that the makeup of the land between the mountains and the sea on this Eastern coast show all the signs of being ancient sea-floor, from the ages before the seas shrank. If so, he has reasoned, then it may be like the great Karstlands of the Middle Sea, riddled with caverns, caves, mighty rivers and great Valleys, hidden from the sun.

Already, in less than ten years, rumors have spread of the Underground cities filled with the riches of the Earth, and the tiny people who toil and work there, leaving no trace of the world above. Several independent expeditions have been sent - none have returned from more than two days travel upriver. The massive and unusual beasts that inhabit the land may have accounted for some, but rumor persists of a hidden culture.

One of the creatures captured for sale by a hunting expedition has shed the only clue...In the ear of a pantherish beast with six legs and tentacles was a bronze medallion, green with age. On it were inscribed some form of writing, and a creature best described as a walking octopus. While this could mean anything, rumor now has it that there is a race of tiny octopus men who inhabit the forests...

Rumors and Speculations[edit]

There have been three claimed sightings of gigantic ships in the Bay of Suns...none of which have led to any meeting. Indeed, the ships have all retreated at great speed.

The Heral Imperiate landed a massive fleet last year on an unclaimed Island chain. While they seem more intent on developng farms and orchards than exploring, there are several fast cutters in their newly developing harbour and an excess of troops.

A little known fact is that there are several small seasonal villages on the edge of the sea of fog. They are generally brave captains of the Kirklands Realms, who fish the rich banks off the fogs for whales and Oilfish.

The Mari Imperium has no direct vested interest in the new world. Several of its princes and princesses have sponsored exploration vessels and certain mercantile ventures along the southern coastal isles, mainly for rare fruits and woods. There are rumors, however, of landings to the South, and a hidden city that the Mari are rebuilding...

The curious case of the Viscount Harper[edit]

Eight years ago (some say twelve, versions differ), the young Viscount Harper arrived, an adventurer with a charter in hand, giving him rights to a huge area, confusingly delimited, of the mountains far far inland. The man arrived on an oak and metal ship crafted by dwarves and with a retinue of some hundred or hundred and fifty men and dwarves, as well as women. The men were, by all appearances, adventurers like the Viscount, while the dwarves were miners, sages and soldiers. There were a few agriculturalists among the men and these were, curiously, the finest dressed of all, along with the count himself. Accompanied by a huge train of mules, horses, donkeys, goats and pigs, this group cut a trail, still discernible in the forest, striking inland. A trio of dwarves remained behind, with a single man, living on the boat which to this day is moored in the harbour. No-one has seen the dwarves leave their craft since, but they can be seen exercising on deck and looking after the craft. It is rumoured that they have a vast store of food within the hold, encased in chests and warded from rotting by magics, which they use to survive. The man is known as Robert de la Mer and he is very frequently seen in town. It is not clear exactly where he is from, nor what he is doing here. Rumours abound, that the Viscount is setting up production in the highlands of Reeka, so he can bring the seeds back to the Old World for sale and undercut the competition, or that Harper's Mission is amassing a mountain of gold, silver and emeralds and will, any day, descend from the mountains with a laden mule train the likes of which has never been seen before. Rather than confirm or deny any of these rumours, de la Mer simply agrees with all of them and expands, a little, on each of them as he does so.

Notes of Interest[edit]

The Shepherds - A religion of the Old world[edit]

The church of the Shepherds is the true and only church of the Trader League and holds a tradeguild writ to tha effect. While the worship of other gods and philosophies is not forbidden, only the shepherds may own holy ground and receive offerings and public donations. It also fills all religious positions in Guild offices. The Shepherds are those that guard the flock from the dangers of the world. They are also the few that commune with the divine powers of the universe so that the many may understand their will. Only through training and understanding may a shepherd come to hear and dream of the great, remote powers and be able to dispense their divine guidance and will in the world.

While the church holds much power in the affairs of the world, their 'divine' word is accorded a less than totally accepted place in the politics of the Middle Sea. Yes, priests exhibit odd powers and magics - but no more than mages or alchemists. Some even believe that divine power is a trick...

Native gods and the Church of the Shepherd[edit]

The islands and some of the coastal areas are littered with huge carvings of demonic heads (think Olmec etc, but wood). Curiously, these heads are wooden yet are apparently ancient, the wood remaining sleek with natural oils as if only a year old and are mostly uncovered with mosses or lichens.

Over the last two years, a good half of the temple compound has been given over to native, or half-native carvers. These men (there are two women among them) have some of the status of a shaman in what is left of the native community and are said to trap spirits into these carvings. They have been carving effigies of saints, and a few more eastern gargoyles, and at least two ships have been laden with these devices and sent back across the sea, to what purpose only the priests know.

Meanwhile, some priests have taken to carrying symbols which stem from the native culture, whether of local demons and spirits or of local animals.

Sorcery limits[edit]

The use of magic can be studied, and a certain level of intellectually pursued power can, with the right tools, items, astrologically correct hours, sacrifices and [huge efforts] be gained. However, real power comes from birthright. The withered arm, the offspring of unnatural union, the seventh son of a seventh son - these are the things that mark any true weilder of magic. Magic seems to come naturally only to those marked by fate or oddity or both.

The darker path of the intellectual schools, of course, seek to provoke fate or bring oddity upon themselves to gain true access to magic power. The lighter path seeks within to transform themselves into worthy bearers of fate - and such an inner search has occasionally brought out an oddity or two...

It should be noted that both these paths rarely see any true success.

Some reasonably classical magical 'marks' Fits, withered limb, hunchback, mother was visited by the devil/a demon/a faerie lord/a god/a demi-god/a dragon/you name it. [or reversed]. Born on a special day/hour/moon/conjunction. Parents are wildly divergent 'types'. An unusual combination of features or 'marks'.

The great Magic Schools[edit]

Magic is rare in the New World. Even more rare then in the Old World. The Art, as it's called, requires immense dedication to wield even a bit of mystical power. Only the truly blessed, and there are some few of them about, ever gain magical might of any true potency.

Therefore, The Art is rarely the focus of study for most so-called Mages. The magical schools of the Old World- there are 4 in total- tend to teach only the most fundamental magic to the vast majority of their students. They instead prefer to give a well rounded, complete education with a greater focus on more worldly and practical knowledge. Science, geometry, natural law, and languages. Only those with an obvious gift- called Sorcerers- are taught high magic, usually by private tutors. None of the schools ever has more then one of these pupils at a time- there simply aren't enough gifted students for them to have more.

Due to offering a deep and immense education, graduates of the magical academy are highly sought after for government positions of all kinds. Therefore, tuition rates are wildly exorbenant. This confers two benefits: 1) it keeps the low class riff raff out of the hallowed halls, making room for more deserving nobility. 2) It makes the schools enourmously wealthy.

Each school has it's own charter and is run in it's own way, but they share a few common elements. Due to their extreme wealth and myriad political ties and prestigious alumni, all four schools are world powers in their own right, rivaling almost any nation. They all keep vast libraries of information, occult, scientific, and heraldric. Their students are often called in as legislators for legal issues- whether their education specialized in law or not.

Finally, the few truly gifted magicians they educate tend to be enormously powerful . While they are rare, their ability once educated is worth the wait. True Sorcerers at the height of the ability can end wars with a word, vanish and reappear across the globe or create an item that will make a legend out of whomever touches it. It is fortunate there are only a quarter dozen known Sorcerers in the world, as reality could hardly bear the strain of any more.